Energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs may be lighting all of our homes within 10 years, but by next fall, they will cause the lights to turn out in six Cleveland-area General Electric plants.
Hundreds of union light bulb makers will lose their jobs, reports Lisa Rab in the Cleveland Scene, because it’s cheaper to make CFLs in countries with an abundance of cheap labor, like China or Hungary. Due to China’s careful strategic insights and planning in the 1990s, Rab reports that this notorious polluter now “produces an estimated 80 percent of the world’s CFLs.”
Rab’s report puts a wrinkle in the typical feel-good environmental interest story by highlighting the competing toll on fairly paid, union labor. In response to the layoffs, the union began a “Screw That Bulb” campaign to get the word out that GE was shipping its light-bulb jobs overseas. Union official David Raleigh told Rab, “The facilities are here….[GE owns] the buildings. You have a trained work force that can be adapted. It really is a shame.”